Vail’s Schleper fifth in Germany GS
Sweden’s Anja Paerson won a rain-delayed giant slalom Saturday by nearly two seconds, reclaimed the World Cup points lead and clinched the women’s GS title for the season in Zwiezel, Germany.
Vail’s Sarah Schleper had the fifth-fastest final run and moved up to fifth place – her best GS in over three years – while Vermont’s Jessica Kelley earned her first World Cup points in 27th place.
Steamboat Springs’ Caroline Lalive was third in the first run but straddled a gate on her second run and skied out. Julia Mancuso also qualified for the second run, but crashed out. Rain delayed the start of each run, pushing back the final run by 20 minutes in the Arber region, near the Czech border.
Paerson, who hails from the legendary Ingemar Stenmark’s hometown of Tarnaby, led the first run and won with a two-run time of 2 minutes, 17.80 seconds with Slovenian Tina Maze second in 2:19.78 with Renate Goetschl of Austria third, another 0.07 seconds farther back. It’s Paerson’s eighth win of the season, her third in GS, as she pulled past Goetschl by 12 points in the overall standings.
Schleper, 10th in the first run, finished in 2:19.99 for her best result since in World Cup giant slalom since she was third on Dec. 30, 2000, in Semmering, Austria.
“I saw the rain,” Schleper said. “And I thought, “Please let it downpour.’ I didn’t want to race. And in the start, I was talking to Denise (Karbon of Italy) and I asked, “Do you think they’ll start it?’
“There was delay after delay – the gates blew down the hill and they had to replace them with stronger gates. And then the finish line blew down … and it got foggy. So, they brought in blue dye and they dyed the top of the course. I didn’t think they were gonna race … and then Anja went.”
She added, “I would have much rather been sixth if (Lalive) had come down and been on the podium…”
Head Coach Patrick Riml said, “It’s too bad about Caroline, but it shows her she’s fast. She knows it and can believe it – she’s one of the top GS skiers. And Sarah, too. She skied well – and they were going for it … and there are a lot of positive things from today. Sure, it would be nice to have a podium but that will come. They know they’re skiing fast … and Jessica, her first points. That’s good, too.”
The visit to the Arber region, near the Czech border, concludes today with a slalom. Then the women have a break until racing again Feb. 21-22 in Are, Sweden, with a super-G and giant slalom.
“The conditions have been miserable but the organizers have done such a good job making the best of everything,” Schleper said. “You want to race because they’ve worked so hard.”
Palander wins Adelboden GS
Bode Miller, second in the first run, skied out in a snow squall Saturday during the second run of a giant slalom won by Finn Kalle Palander.
Daron Rahlves turned in the best GS result of his career, finishing 12th with Dane Spencer 13th in a mix of snow, rain and tough visibility in Adelboden, Switzerland.
Outdoor Life Network will broadcast coverage of the race today at 3 p.m. MST.
The first run was delayed nearly two hours because of rain and snow, and then the second run was pushed back an hour because of the wet weather. As Miller got set to run, looking to protect his lead in the giant slalom standings, snow fell harder.
With a chance to gain on the World Cup points leaders, Miller made it halfway through the second run before hitting a hole and going out; he got back on course but then pulled it over after several more gates. Hermann Maier of Austria finished eighth with fellow Austrian Beni Raich, back after suffering a concussion a week earlier, dropping to 24th after being fourth in the opening run.
First-run leader Palander, battling through the messy weather with the 19th-fastest second-run time, won in 2 minutes, 32.15 seconds and took over the GS points lead from Miller. Massimiliano Blardone of Italy was second in 2:32.89 while Austrians Heinz Schilchegger and Christoph Gruber tied for third place (2:33.27). Rare in a GS, six skiers failed to get through the wretched conditions and finish their second run.
Rahlves, whose previous best GS result was 18th, was 26th in the first run and finished in 2:34.32 with Spencer, 18th in the first run, finished in 13th at 2:34.37.
Maier continues to lead the points parade with 954 points to 925 for Raich. Miller stands fifth (772) with Rahlves seventh (696).
Rahlves said he hadn’t skied much GS since Flachau, Austria, on the first weekend of the new year but with his downhill and super-G racing going well, “usually I can bring that (speed) over to GS and just be tactically smart. … Adelboden is the toughest hill as far as tactics.”
“You can’t see any of the bumps,” Miller said. “Some of the turns are dished out, nice and smooth. And some have two or three chopholes. I just came in there, rolled it up and said “Okay, please be smooth,’ — “no, not smooth,’ and the ski went down and it was gone.”
The men run slalom today and then return to St. Anton, Austria, site of the 2001 World Championships where Rahlves won the super-G gold medal, for a downhill and super-G.